Tag Archives: Traditional Lifestyle

is there a difference between appam and aappam ?

Does there exist a difference between appam and aappam? When a chef presented appam, I could make out from the texture that it was aappam (ɑːpam) and not appam (əˈpam).

The chef agreed that it was aappam (‘a’ as in ‘part’) and not appam (‘a’ as in ‘America’). To my friends, this was new information as they said that they never knew that appam was different from aappam.

Besides, on browsing, no such article or video existed clarifying the difference between Appam and AAppam.

What is appam?

If bread means any baked item made with flour, yeast and water; in Malayalam appam refers to any baked, steamed, fried or pancaked item made with flour. Appam can be vattayappam, unniyappam, Nei appam, idiyappam, Vella appam, palappam and so on.

When you add yeast to the rice batter and make pancakes on a flat pan, then we get velleyappam. So, when you add urad dal to the rice batter and ferment, as in idli, and prepare pancakes, then that is dosa.

Here we are discussing the appams prepared in appachetty (small hopper pans shaped like a deep frying wok).

DIFFERENCE BETWEEN APPAM AND AAPPAM

What is palappam?

The appams prepared in appachetty traditionally called Palappam prepared by adding pal (Milk) to loosen the batter. But, in recent times, appam generally means palappam.

Palappam is when coconut milk is used instead of water to grind the rice and yeast used for fermentation. And once the batter rises, nice wafer-like, basket-shaped hoppers are prepared with a thick, soft and fluffy inner core. Nowadays in restaurants and parties, these palappams, globally known as appams and curry has become a favourite cuisine.

Being a Malayalee I prepare appam using yeast or coconut water. But, my Tamilian friends use urad dal – one or two spoonfuls of urad dal, as a larger quantity of urad dal will mean dosa.

What is AAppam?

The appam that I had that day contained urad dal instead of yeast for fermentation. The chef was Tamilian, like my friends, therefore he called the hoppers as AAppam.

Difference between appam and aappam

The difference between appam and aappam differs in three aspects. While yeast ferment the appams, urad dal (black gram) ferments aappam. The texture and taste of both differ as the fermentation agents differ. And while the Malayalees call their rice-yeast hoopers as appam, the Tamilians call their rice-urad dal hoppers as aappam.

Isn’t so much differentiation enough to prove that appam is different from aappam? What do you say?

‘Ullathu kondu onam pole’ (celebrating Onam with whatever available)

There are two proverbs about how Onam is to be celebrated. Ullathu kondu Onam pole which means celebrating Onam with whatever little is available; and Kanam vittum Onam unnanam which means one must celebrate Onam even by selling one’s property.

Onam is a harvest festival celebrated in Kerala. Onam is a time of bountiful.  There is no dearth of food commodities for serving lavish sadhyas (feast) for ten days of Onam. Therefore the term Onam is used to represent abundance. If plenty of dishes are cooked in any house throughout the year then people say ‘for them every day is like Onam’.

Onam is more about food than anything else. What you consume on each day of Onam is almost a ritual. Traditionally after the elaborate cooking on ThiruOnam (second day of Onam), there won’t be any cooking on the next day that is Munam Onam. In some places whatever is left will be consumed as Pazhamkanji (fermented rice gruel) on the fourth day of Onam that is Chadayam.

This year’s Onam for me was the actualization of the first proverb –  an Onam celebrated with whatever was available in the Kitchen

As Onam was in the middle of the week and Kids were in the Middle of their mid-term exam, we couldn’t shop for the Onam sadhya. Besides, our Malayalee uncle who supplies Kerala items at our home every week gave a miss this Onam season. We had decided to have an elaborate Onam sadhya later in the week, but, on Thiruonam day, when people started posting images of their sumptuous sadhyas on WhatsApp and facebook we changed our mind. We decided to prepare a sadhya with whatever ingredients were available in the kitchen (ullathu kondu Onam pole).

There was green gram, split chickpea, jaggery and coconut available. So I prepared green gram stir fry (Payar thoran), fried green gram curry (Payar curry), Chickpea payasam (kadala parippu payasam) and fried coconut chutney.  The accompaniments included tender mango pickle, banana and pappad. And there was ghee to flavour the brown Kerala rice.

The frugality in the number of dishes was because I was confined to the four walls of an apartment is a metropolitan city. Had I been in Kerala, even in the gravest of situation, I could prepare some more vegetable dishes by picking up leaves, roots, stems, fruits and flowers from the edible plants around my house.

If there is plantain tree then I can prepare banana fry or stir fry, Banana flower stir fry and banana stem stir fry.  Two or three taro stems will be enough for a stir fry. One or more of a variety of edible leaves like Veli cheera (sweet leaves), kuppa cheera (amaranth leaves) and chembila (colocasia leaves ) can be easily tossed into a stir fry. According to traditional medical practitioners, most of the leaves around our houses are edible and nutritious, provided they are washed thoroughly.  

Coming back to our Onam in the city this year-  it was a high-protein Onam Sadhya.  Delicious to the core and the banana leaves gave a complete feel to the Onam celebration. There were seven dishes, one-third of the number of dishes normally served for an Onam Sadhya.

Ullathu Kondu Onam Pole
A high-protein Onam

The next day Munam Onam (third day of Onam ) we received a pass for Onam Sadhya at Kerala House. It was one of the best sadhyas I had in my life. I felt like I was attending a typical Hindu wedding in Kerala during my childhood days. I was reminded of another Onam proverb Onam und ariyanam which means Onam can be experienced only by having an Onam sadhya.

Onam Sadhya at Kerala House

Journey of a Traditional Kerala House from Kerala to Delhi

A 300-year-old traditional Kerala house, beautifully built with stones and wood was moved,1300 km from Kerala to Delhi. The house that belonged to a traditional agrarian family, was handed over from one generation to another to the youngest son of the family. And so the house finally was inherited by Oommen George, an Architect and Artist who now stays in the US. He had no plans to stay in his ancestral home.

What he wanted to be done with the house…..

When Mr. Oommen tried to sell the house, called Meda, in Mepral, Thirvulla, he realised that everyone was interested in the plot and the wooden antiques in the house which could be sold. None was interested in restoring and staying in the house. There was only one option before him which was to dismantle the house which was in a dilapidated state.

Traditional Kerala House

Who came to his rescue……….

His friend and Famous architect Pradeep Sachdeva came to his rescue at this moment. Well known for his projects like the Delhi Haat and the Garden of five senses. He is also the architect of offices and hotels like Taj.

How could Sachdeva dismantle the building unscathed?

What Sachdeva did next was to get the local traditional carpenter, Narayan Achari who knew about the wood works.  Commonly known as Achari, the Acharis are carpenters and they pass on their tradition from generation to generation. Narayan Achari and his local group of workers worked like professionals to systematically remove all the wood pieces of Meda and to number them and to pack them in groups.

What is unique about the traditional Kerala house?

Traditional Kerala House
Meda in 1900

Fifty years back in Kerala there used to be only a few pucca houses in a village, and the rest will be thatched huts. Hence the entire village had an emotional attachment to the palatial landmarks of their village. The arapura,  is the wooden room which is a granary, and has a granary box (pathayam) and ostensibly built at the entrance of the house with wooden carved door, gold platings and sophisticated locking system. The arapura was the storing place for the rice and other food items.

Why are Keralites emotional about traditional houses?

Every village has some kind of traditional stories related to the tharavad (ancestral home) and to the arapura of the tharavad. In my grandmother’s childhood home, a tradition is followed even now. The preparation for the temple celebration begins from that village ( know as kara) only after the karnavar (head of the family) of the tharavad opens the arapura and gives two bottles of coconut oil to the temple authorities. ‘Meda’, it is said was located above sea level, hence the villagers found shelter here during floods.

Traditional Kerala House

 

 

 

 

 

Role of an Acharis’ in the construction of a traditional Kerala house

The acharis, have got an important place in the Kerala architecture. They hand down their trade secret to the next generation. The role of an Achari is immense in traditional Kerala house construction. In olden days they were the consultant architects, engineers, carpenter and astrologer for any construction project.  Narayan Achari started mastering the skills at a very young age.

Features of a wooden room or Ara………….

Traditional Kerala house rooms of woods are known as Ara and Nira. Nira means panels. The walls, ceilings and the floors are made of wooden panels which are joined without nuts and bolts. The wooden panels are joined like jigsaw puzzles.Traditional Kerala House

Achari’s role in dismantling the house…….

Naryan Achari, dexterously removed the panels and packed them in groups so that when the package reached Gurugram, the panels could be easily unpacked and joined.

Did they use new materials in reconstruction in Gurugram?

Some of the wood was unusable, so Pradeep Sachedeva made a few new panels using similar wood in Gurugram. And only the wooden rooms of upstairs was brought to Delhi. Instead of the stones used for the ground floor walls, bricks were used in gurugram.

How long was the reconstruction……

Achari and his team were brought to Gurugram where the assembling and reconstruction were done within six weeks.

Traditional Kerala House

Traditional Kerala House

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What were the additions made to the traditional building?

John Bowman, a British architect created a cast iron spiral steps to the upper floor. Initially, the staircase was of wood. In addition, a bathroom and a kitchen were constructed on the ground floor. In addition, electricity and plumbing were installed.

How is the house after eight years of shifting………..

Mr. Sachdeva says the house seems to belong to the place, and wood will be fine for a long time.

Is the upkeep of the wood structure difficult

He says maintenance of the structure is not difficult and the house is cleaned and kept well maintained.

How economical is it to shift a traditional house?

Mr. Sachdeva says that shifting the house is not a costly affair.

Traditional Kerala House

What is the house being used as in Gurugram?

Meda is being used as a weekend home by Mr. Sachdeva and it is also  used as  a guesthouse.

What do the guests say about the house?

They are absolutely thrilled!!!

4 Lent food of Kerala Christians

Yesterday, was Easter and the 40 days of fasting and 10 days of the passion week has come to end. This year many people said that they never knew that Christians fasted and abstained from non-vegetarian food, including milk and alcohol, for 50 days in a year.

Fasting, abstaining from certain food, penance and praying have relevance in the Christian religion, from the time of Christ itself. Christ went on 40 days fast in the wilderness, before beginning his 3 years ministry leading to his Crucifixion and Resurrection. 40  days lent is one of the basic foundation the Orthodox and the Catholic churches, founded by the Apostles. Believers get purified, detoxified and they get the energy to survive spiritually for the next one year.

Christianity came to Kerala in the early days itself, when St. Thomas (who is known as Apostle of India), came to India in AD 52. In the past 2000 years, Kerala Christian’s tradition of prayer, food, and culture is a blend of the Bible, the life of Jesus, the association with other Apostolic Churches in the world and Kerala tradition.

The first forty days of fasting is purely full of prayers, fasting even without drinking water up to 12:00 pm; and having lunch after the Midday prayer and kneeling 40 times. The simplest form of fasting is abstaining from meat, fish, and egg for 50 days. The toughest form of fasting depends on the one who fasts. Some of the Ashram priests, it is said, have light lunch that includes kanji (water rice or gruel) and stir-fried moong (green gram). And they have even lighter supper — Such men do not live by bread alone but by the word of God.

There is a lot of symbolism connected with the lent season, which raises nostalgia. Certain lent food prepared during the last 10 days of the passion week has a lot of symbolic value. The 40 days of fasting ends on the Friday before Good Friday, and the next 10 days are dedicated for more prayers and more spiritual activities.

Here are some the food items which are symbolic of certain holy days of the Lenten period:

Kozhukattai Saturday

The family of Lazarus, and his two sisters, Martha and Mary, was Jesus’s favourite. Lazarus died and was buried. On the third day, Jesus came and rose Lazarus from the dead. It is said that Kozukattai was one of the favourite food of Jesus. He had kozukattai with Lazarus family. The raising of Lazarus from the dead is remembered on this Saturday.

People make kozukattai at home and share it with friends, relatives, and neighbors. Kozuattai has steamed rice dumplings with a stuffing of coconut gratings, jaggery and a pinch of cardamom. 

Vattayappam/Pesaha Appam

The tradition of Pesaha Appam dates back to the Jewish tradition 2000 years before the birth of Jesus. The Jews remember the Passover day when the Israelite’s left Egyptian slavery and started their Exodus to Israel. During the preparation to leave Egypt, the Israelite’s were asked by Moses to prepare unleavened bread. That was because they had to leave early in the morning and so there was no time to ferment the dough. 

Yesterday someone commented on the Pesaha Appam video given below that this is not an authentic traditional way of preparing Pesaha Appam. As the batter is not fermented for making Pesaha Appam. On consulting many elderly and experts preparing the Pesaha Appam, there were different opinions,

Some prepare the batter and immediately make the appam. Others keep the rice and urad dal batter mix aside for 3-4 hours before preparing the appam. Some use yeast. Because they are preparing the appam to be given in the Chuch as offering after the Passover Service. While in other places there is a ceremony in the house on Thursday evening where Pesaha Appam and Pesaha Pall (Coconut milk recipe) is given as a dip. 

The video given below was intended for the working young women and men in cities who want to prepare appam as an offering for the Church, The intention was to help them be part of the tradition even when they have time constraints. This is how my family and friends prepare appam for Pesaha. 

On the day before his Crucifixion on Good Friday, Jesus observed the Jewish Passover festival with his 12 disciples, at the house of Mark. The ‘Last Supper’ painting of Michelangelo depicting the event is very popular.

Kerala Christian prepare unleavened bread or Pesaha appam (Pesaha mean Maundy Thursday) with rice flour and urad dal as the main ingredients. There are a number of different varieties of preparing pesaha appam.

And an accompaniment called Pesaha pal is also prepared. In traditional homes, all the members of the family gather around the table, with the head of the family at the main chair. The youngest member of the family will ask the head of the family about the relevance of the festival. He will explain and distribute the appam to the family members.

Good Friday Kanji

Lent food
Good Friday Kanji

Rice Gruel (kanji) at the end of the long Good Friday service is nostalgia for Kerala Christians. After fasting for the whole day, and having Chorukka (bitter drink) at the end of the service, the Rice Gruel, with stir-fried green moong (green gram) and kadu manga(a special mango pickle) is an incomparable delicacy blended with spiritual and traditional values. In the olden days, the Kanji was served in an earthen pot with jack fruit leaves shaped like spoons.

Vellayappam

Vellayappam is a kind of dosa prepared from rice flour, grated coconut and; fresh coconut toddy or yeast used as the leavening agent. On the two main festivals of Kerala Christians, Christmas, and Easter, vellayappam is prepared in large numbers for the relatives, neighbors, and helpers.

Lent Food
Wherever Kerala Christians go they carry their tradition – Courtesy Roshini and Manu Stephen, ScotlandVellayappam

For a Kerala Christian Christmas cake is exotic. For them, vellayappam with chicken or mutton stew symbolizes the celebrations of Christmas and Easter.

Watch this video for Holy Week Recipes. A quick recipe is provided to prepare Pesaha Appam for Maundy Thursday,  A recipe on how to make kanji, payar, and kadumanga (Mango Pickle) at home for Good Friday, as it is Lockdown. And for Easter, there is the recipe for Vellayappam and Chicken Stew.

 


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Parenting now and then differ

Parenting now and then; is a common topic of discussion when parents of two generation meet. Parents groom the children to attain certain goals. They want their children to be social, good at sports, academically excellent and gifted artist. Parents plan the course of the kid’s life with activities and classes that will nurture them to reach the goal. Parent of 80’s and 90’s say that when they were children they just grew up like plants and trees; now our children are nurtured, with nutritions and skills, so that they have the right kind of growth. Read this post about introducing wife as ‘The wife’.

 This is an age of abundance, and people want to hoard everything and gear up for an uncertain future when thing can go really wrong. May be the doomsday will happen, or a deluge, or global warming may destroy the earth, or maybe there will be war for water. Parenting now and then has a wide gap.
My parents had short term goal, they saved to buy a cot, or a television, or a house. Now I have everything, what I want to make sure is that these comforts remain forever. All the ‘how to’ articles give some tips to make a better tomorrow. 
 
Here are a few of parenting now and then –  ‘Then’ (of 80’s & 90’s) and ‘Now’ (of the present time). Difference is how our parents lived their lives and how we plan our lives now:
  • Parenting: 
Then – They spent all their earning to sent the children to the best school they can afford. They gave the children the same food they ate. The children played outside the house when they were not studying. Children participated in school and community cultural programs without any formal training. 
Now –  Now also parents sent children to the costliest school, but they make sure that the children get all round development. Children are given special diet supplement, fruits and  vitamins, that will ensure proper growth. The timing of the study, play and other activity is set in advance. The children are encouraged to use play-way method games so that their play time is also utilized for education. Regular Coaching classes are given for sports and music. Children participate in all the competition in a very professional manner. 
  • Housing: 
Then – They just wanted one dream house in any one part of the world. 
Now –  People buy apartments and plots is different parts of the world as part of investment. Many houses means you can change the residence according to the favourable condition of the place. 
  • Food

Then – Mother did all the cooking, whether for school, office, home or a party. There was a strict food regime; biscuits and chocolate were a treat once in a blue moon.

Now –   You can even get home delivered kid’s school lunch box. Most of the nutritions are acquired from processed food like corn flakes, oatmeal, whole wheat bread, milk supplements and tetra packed fruit juices. Biscuits and ice creams are so common that children have choices of their brands and flavours. 
 
 Parenting now and then dynamically differ. Now there is a branding is all the activities, while then parents followed traditional methods and took advice from elders. 
Whatever may be the methods of parenting now and then, nature has given us a parents instinct to nurture our kids. Rely more on our instincts to groom the children.
 
 
 
 

Ancy Abraham